How to Do It Right: Home Cleaning During Flood Restoration

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A thorough and fast cleanup will help avoid mold growth. If you wait too long and mold growth starts, cleanup costs will increase significantly. This is what you should be looking for if you want somebody or hire company to do the job for you:

Your first consideration in doing restoration is to protect and save flooded items inside a home. When doing this, be quick before mold attack will happen. It is much difficult to catch up if it started to damage wet items. The last condition, moisture, is the only practical factor to control in most houses.

Mold grows quickly; your adjuster should ensure that you have a contractor in your house promptly.

The contractor you select should have certification or training in water damage restoration and mold remediation.

The contractor should follow basic, good clean up practices after your water damage. Here are some things to look for:

The moisture source is stopped
Wet items that can't be salvaged are removed
What can't be removed is dried quickly
Ideally, drying is done within 48 hours (to minimize mold growth)
No refinishing is done until the area is thoroughly dried

If you want to do it on your own: General clean up

Get organized. Set priorities. Remove contaminated mud first. Next scrub with detergent, then wash with a disinfectant. Thoroughly clean and dry your house before trying to live in it and before making permanent repairs.

Remove water from the basement slowly. If your basement is full or nearly full of water, pump out just 2 or 3 feet of water each day. If you drain the basement too quickly, the pressure outside the walls will be greater than the pressure inside the walls. That may make the walls and floor crack and collapse.

Remove contaminated mud. Shovel out as much mud as possible, then use a garden sprayer or hose to wash away mud from hard surfaces. Start cleaning walls at the bottom or where damage is worst. Remember to hose out heating ducts, disconnecting the furnace first.

Clean and disinfect. Scrub surfaces with hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner. Then disinfect with a solution of 1/4 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water or a product that is labeled as a disinfectant to kill germs. Laundry bleaches should not be used on materials that will be damaged or might fade. Sanitize dishes, cooking utensils and food preparation areas before using them. Thoroughly disinfect areas where small children play. Don't mix cleaning products. A combination of chemicals can give off toxic fumes.

Dry ceilings and walls. Flood-soaked wallboard should be removed and thrown away. Plaster and paneling can often be saved, but air must be circulated in the wall cavities to dry the studs and sills. The three kinds of insulation must be treated differently. Styrofoam might only need to be hosed off. Fiberglass batts should be thrown out if muddy but may be reused if dried thoroughly. Loose or blown-in cellulose should be replaced since it holds water for a long time and can lose its antifungal and fire retardant abilities.

Prevent mildew growth. Take furniture, rugs, bedding and clothing outside to dry as soon as possible. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to remove moisture or open at least two windows to ventilate with outdoor air. Use fans to circulate air in the house. If mold and mildew have already developed, brush off items outdoors to prevent scattering spores in the house. Vacuum floors, ceilings and walls to remove mildew, then wash with disinfectant. Wear a two-strap protective mask to prevent breathing mold spores.

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